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The Principal Building at Birmingham Curzon Street

The Principal Building represents the world's oldest surviving piece of monumental railway. architecture.

Curzon Street Station was the first railway terminus serving the centre of Birmingham. The station provided passenger services, servicing the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) and the Grand Junction Railway (GJR).

The L&BR terminus opened in 1838 and was fronted by the grand ‘Principal Building’ which survives in situ.

The design

Boasting a huge balustraded entrance, the three-storey building was constructed in Classical style – inspired by the architect’s travels in Italy – and housed offices for clerks and company secretaries of the L&BR.

The building’s Roman-style front also remains, with the arms of the London and Birmingham Railway adorned above its main doors. However, due to a direct hit during a bombing raid in the Second World War, most of its roof and all of its windows were replaced.

In the 1980s the structure was restored. During this time, the team discovered the mummified of a cat which had been placed in a space beneath the floorboards – a superstition which was still practised in the Victorian era.

The future

Today, the Principal Building is being restored once more as part of the site’s redevelopment, in partnership with Historic England. The refurbishment will see this status change for the first time in over a decade, with future plans to use it as an HS2 visitors centre, with flexible facilities for office space, exhibition purposes and catering.

Principal Building as of 2019 The Principal Building incorporated into the new station
A before and after of the Principal Building. The first image shows the building as of 2019 whilst the second is a graphic of how the building could be incorporated into the new Curzon Street Station design.

"The transformation of this amazing old building and the new station will be one of the real show pieces of the entire HS2 network."

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham Council